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Abu Dhabi squad claims runner-up spot at opening race of the season whilst community car shows promising pace
The Sim Grid Endurance Cup returned on Saturday, 1 May for the inaugural race of the 2021 campaign. Round 1 saw a total of 540 drivers compete across four splits at the iconic Hungaroring for a three-hour race on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Reigning champions YAS HEAT powered by Richard Mille dominated proceedings in season two and returned to the fold with one thing on their mind – retaining the title. The team comprised top-tier talent from across YAS HEAT’s Assetto Corsa talent pool, including Eamonn Murphy, Mikhail Statsenko and Andrea Capoccia.
The second car – YAS Community – was led by Jaroslav Honzik or ‘Jardier’ and fielded a squad of YAS HEAT fans as the team repaid the dedication shown by their loyal followers, enabling them to race in a professional esports competition.
It was a dream start to the season for the Abu-Dhabi based team as they put it on pole position for the first race of the season. A tense opening stint saw the top three cars separated by mere tenths from the outset, with YAS HEAT leading the charge.
As the initial pit stops loomed, the Odox Motorsport #122 car made its move, relegating YAS HEAT to second place. Before Statsenko was able to respond, contact with the third place Griphax Engineering car and the subsequent time lost saw the Abu-Dhabi squad drop out of contention for the lead, despite second place being conceded by Griphax Engineering shortly after.
From that point on, the damage was done and the lead remained out of reach as the gap ebbed and flowed between five and ten seconds for the remaining stints. The team crossed the line to claim the runner-up spot but left the Hungaroring knowing they were denied a chance to fight for victory.
Eamonn Murphy, Assetto Corsa Driver, YAS HEAT ESPORTS said:
“On the day at Hungaroring, we extracted the most out of the 488 EVO, especially with 50kg ballast. The Audi unfortunately, over a full stint, just seemed to have the edge on pace, but, unfortunately for our rivals, this only makes us push harder to find even more time.
“As a team I feel we have progressed even more than last season with better communication before, during and after races, thus increasing levels of preparation for the next time we hit the track. Every mistake or downfall is analysed and worked upon. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
“Our ambitions are the same as when we first started out together, championship titles are the main goal… YAS isn’t here to take part, we’re here to take over.”
YAS HEAT Community meanwhile were running well in fifth place – on merit – before a collision ahead spelt disaster for a number of cars and sent the squad tumbling down the order, eventually finishing P14.
Next up on the Endurance Cup calendar is a six-hour race at the iconic Italian circuit of Monza (29 May, 11:00am BST) and can be watched live on The Sim Grid’s YouTube channel.